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Michael Clarke Duncan, the actor best known for his Oscar-nominated role alongside Tom Hanks in The Green Mile, died on September 3, 2012 due to heart complications.

What heart health lessons can we learn from him?

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READ: Why Dennis Haysbert’s Heart Is “In Good Hands”

Most people are all too familiar with the concept that ignorance is bliss, but there are instances when ignorance can pose itself as a risk. Most young adults in particular don’t seem to know much about cardiac risk factors, but they rise steadily and sharply with age. In fact, heart disease can happen as early as 30.

The latest findings on heart disease are nothing unexpected: According to Dr. Icilma Fergus, it’s still the leading cause of death in the United States, and the number one killer of American men, claiming a life about every 34 seconds.

“The key to understanding why cardio disease is so devasting in the black community is understanding some of the risk factors in that community,” says Dr. Fergus. “Over 58% of black men are overweight, and 52% of blacks have an inactive lifestyle, in addition to practicing other unsafe habits, such as a poor diet and smoking.”

But no matter how old (or young) you are, the only way to stay on top of your game is to know your risk factors and take the right steps to avoid problems down the road.

Here’s how black men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond can keep their hearts healthy:

Michael Clarke Duncan: What Every Black Man Can Do For His Heart  was originally published on

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